Monday, August 31, 2009

No Pressure


With baby #3 due to arrive in just over a week, you would think I'd be trying to keep rested and calm--getting ready for the big day.

Instead, I am staying up all night, worrying about how and when everything will play out. Last night I didn't sleep at all until about 5 a.m.--all because I was trying to figure out how we were going to get Benjamin to his first day of kindergarten if I go into labor the day before school starts (Labor Day, right?). So many things are out of my control. . . .


Yesterday Jason was telling me, too, that next week he will be down to one assistant at work--two of the others are going back to school, and the third (who was originally planning to stay and work through the fall) is leaving town and not returning. So, if I have the baby this week, fine--if I have her next week, it might ruin Jason's business!

Benjamin--always very supportive and eager to be a big brother again--also made a troubling comment yesterday on the way home from church. He was talking about the baby and what she would be like, and ended with, "I hope she's a boy!"

Here is a very flattering picture he drew of me during church--notice the many layers of my enormous tummy :)


Anyway, people always say that babies come when they're ready, and I know it's out of my hands (although someone did give me a very "tempting" recipe for a concoction that supposedly brings on labor within 5 hours). I just hope everything else works out okay, too. And I hope I can get some sleep before it all happens, because I am really tired!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Shoes Were Early!

Almost two weeks ago we went to Metrotown so Benjamin could see the dinosaur bones on exhibit there.


After our T-Rex experience, we thought we'd go to the second happiest place on earth, at least for our kids--The Disney Store (Okay, it's probably more like the 8th happiest place, but it does make them pretty happy to see all the Disney stuff).

Ever since our trip to Disneyland in February, Janae and Ben have talked about going back--almost every day. It's to the point where when Janae says her bedtime prayers, she always says, "Please bless us that we can go to Disneyland tomorrow to see the princesses." I'm not sure what to do about that one. . . .


Anyway, I was thinking that The Disney Store might be a good place to pick up a small gift to give Janae when her little sister is born. After exercising extreme self-control and bypassing the very high-priced Princess dresses, I decided on a pair of sparkly pink Sleeping Beauty shoes that were 25 percent off (so down to only about twice as much as you'd expect a reasonable person to pay for such a thing).

I bundled the shoes up in the Princess shopping bag I'd received and put them into my hospital bag--to be opened when Janae came to meet her new little rival.

Every day, though, something has happened to tempt me to give Janae the shoes. Maybe we'd be at the store and she'd pull a pair of sparkly (but not Disney Princess) shoes off the shelf, try them on, and start walking around. I'd want to say, "Mommy has some shoes like that for you at home!" Or she'd be dancing in one of her sparkly dresses, and wearing a pair of socks that she was pretending were glass slippers, and I'd want to pull the new shoes out and say, "Look, Janae--these are for you!"

It took 10 days of these small incidents to wear me down. Today Janae was trying to fit into a pair of slippers she'd had since before she was a year old (Daddy had helped her get into them last night). She had her fancy dress on, her sing-along Princess CD playing . . . she just needed shoes. And there she was, trying to squeeze into a too-small slipper, as though she was one of Cinderella's step-sisters.


So, I cracked. I RAN to the hospital bag, pulled out the sparkly shoes, showed them to Janae, cut out the tags, tried them on her (They just fit--good thing I didn't wait a minute longer! That girl has grown two shoe sizes this summer!), watched her dance in them (which was difficult for her, because she couldn't stop looking at the shoes!), and felt . . . absolutely great about it all!


Fortunately, I also picked up a pair of Sleeping Beauty pajamas while at The Disney Store, not to mention a Snow White Polly Pocket-type set at Walmart a few weeks ago (I was planning to save these for Christmas, but my track record is obviously not very good . . .). We'll see what Janae ends up with by the time that little sister of hers is born :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Benjamin's BIG News

There's no denying it: Benjamin is growing up. He is constantly outgrowing his clothes, he knows all of his letters and sounds, and in just three more weeks he'll be starting kindergarten.

But you might not know that for the past couple of months, Ben has also been working on wiggling out his first loose tooth. I didn't realize how loose it was until a couple of weeks ago, when he showed me how it could tilt all the way back and all the way forward. I encouraged him to "keep wiggling," which he has done, almost constantly.


Then this afternoon, when I was helping Janae take care of a little "accident," Ben came running into the bathroom holding something tiny and white--it couldn't be . . . but it was--his TOOTH! It looked so much smaller once it was out!


Now Benjamin has a window in his mouth, which he is very proud of. Luckily he can still whistle, too (we had to check this right away--he was so sad when he fell on his lip back in June and couldn't whistle for a whole week!).


Of course, he had to call Daddy, Grandma, and some of his cousins to tell them the big news. Then he ran upstairs and told his teddy bear, too :)


Now the tooth is in an envelope under his pillow, and we're all waiting to see what the tooth fairy will bring (I am especially curious about this, since I have nothing but credit and debit cards in my wallet. . . . ).

Monday, August 17, 2009

Little Missy Turns Little Mama

I often call Janae a "little missy," by which I mean that she's got a bit of an attitude--she thinks she is pretty grown up/independent and can be a little demanding and bossy. (Of course she is also a sweetheart in many other ways!)


But lately Janae has turned over a new leaf when it comes to her baby dolls. A few months ago I wrote about Janae's mistreatment of her dolls--pounding them against the ground, telling them she is "Mad, Mad, Mad," etc. Well, now she has started to actually take care of her "babies," taking them for rides in their stroller, wrapping them in blankets, etc.

A couple of days ago I went into Janae's room and found she had put one of her babies to bed, along with her own favorite "Sparkly Teddy," and she was lying down on the floor beside the bed--the same way Jason and I do when we put Janae to bed, using her big stuffed dog as a pillow. So sweet!


Then later she brought one of the babies downstairs for a cuddle while watching TV.


What a little Mama! Hopefully this new-found love of babies will help Janae with our big changes in the next few weeks. She is already giving my tummy kisses and talking about her little sister, so things are looking better than they were a few months ago. . . .

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We'll Take the Candy!

I've had several experiences lately that have called many of my so-called skills and talents into question. For example, I used to think I was a good teacher, but now--after teaching the 5-year-olds in Primary for a couple of months--I am realizing I must be well below average. I also used to think I did a pretty good job of keeping cat hair out of Benjamin's room--but the other day when I took down all our curtains to wash them, I found that Ben's were covered with more fur than any of the others--probably enough to knit myself a very fuzzy maternity-sized sweater.

But by far my greatest delusion has been in thinking that I was good at baking. I've never claimed to be a great cook (my dinners are all pretty simple and uncreative, although usually eatable), but I've always loved to bake--even before I got that Easy Bake Oven for Christmas when I was 6 or 7. In college I baked bread, muffins, and cookies all the time, and then when I started teaching I baked so many cookies for my students that some of them started to call me Sister Cookie! I felt pretty confident in my baking ability.

Then I married Jason. Early in our marriage, I asked Jason what his favorite cookies were. Wondering if he would choose my chocolate pudding cookies or my oatmeal chocolate chip, I was shocked when he said, "Ummm . . . Fudgee-Os." Fudgee-Os??? Store-bought, crunchy, artificially flavored Fudgee-Os? Yes, it was a sad day, but Jason soon learned his lesson--and now when he is asked the same question, he responds with a much better answer.

But children are much more honest. A few days ago, Benjamin and I were trying to come up with an idea for Family Home Evening treats. I got out one of my cookbooks that was devoted to all varieties of cookies and squares and started asking Ben his opinion of some of the possibilities. All of a sudden, Ben's eyes lit up and he said, "I know what we can have!" and directed my attention to a bowl of suckers and other candy he and Janae had collected at the Canada Day Parade last month. "You'd rather have a lollypop than a chocolate mint brownie?" I asked (although barely able to speak). "Yeah!!" Ben replied.


While I was completely dejected to learn that pretty much any store-bought candy or cookie was preferable to my baking, I realized that this conversation touched on a much larger problem. Ben and Janae are both very closed minded when it comes to what constitutes a "treat." While I was raised to consider fruit a treat (we used to get excited about opening a jar of plums after dinner on Sundays), my children (and husband, too) consider it an unpleasant duty to eat fruit in any form (including apple crisp, berry cobbler, fruit pies, etc.--even when topped with ice cream!). They will, however, eat fruit snacks and, of course, fruit-flavored candy.

And if the dessert is not candy, the main ingredient has to be chocolate--otherwise my children will REFUSE TO EVEN TRY IT. I have made banana bread, oatmeal cookies, applesauce muffins, and many other treats--all of which I have thought were pretty good--only to have them go stale on the counter or become freezer burned because no-one but me would even taste them. This has also created some embarrassing moments for me at family events and birthday parties, when a white cake with vanilla frosting or custard filling has been presented. While everyone else is excited to try the treat, my children say, "No thank you," the disappointment showing plainly on their faces. It has to be chocolate cake with chocolate icing, or it
will be refused.


A few weeks ago we were even at a vegetable stand that served soft ice cream, and when offered a free vanilla cone, my children only reluctantly agreed to hold the sub-standard item until they got outside. They tried to force themselves to eat a few bites of the apparently disgusting substance, but ended up giving me their melting, sticky cones to "finish" (there went my blood sugar reading for the day).


My only consolation in all of this is that the trait could be genetic. Just as some people are born with blond hair or a pre-disposition toward diabetes--through no fault of their own--some people (i.e., my husband and his descendents) are born without the gene that allows them to appreciate a variety of flavors.


Yes, you could argue that my own taste buds are defective, or that my students were baking-deprived and that's what allowed them to enjoy my offerings, but the more I think about it, the more I prefer to think that this must be a genetic trait that comes from Jason's side. But I think I will still try to work on developing some new talents so my self-esteem won't become too deflated by all of these recent findings. . . .

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

"Neither a Borrower Nor a Lender Be"?

Near the beginning of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a character named Polonius (kind of an old windbag type) gives his son a bunch of advice, including the counsel, "neither a borrower nor a lender be." While I'm sure we've all felt disappointed about having borrowed items returned to us in a less-than-perfect state, I don't mind lending so much as borrowing. In fact, I think I would re-write this piece of advice as "a lender but not a borrower be," especially when it comes to books. Let me explain.

In the past, when there was a book I wanted to read or that was recommended to me, I would immediately go to a bookstore and buy or order the book. I would enjoy taking the new book home, examining the cover, and over the next few days or weeks (depending on the book), absorbing its information or story. I really am a book worm.


Over the past few years, though, I have found that this practice is too expensive--especially when, after spending $20+ on a novel, I would find that I didn't enjoy it enough to keep it, and would end up donating it to a second-hand store. To a single girl, this might be fine, but to a mom of almost three--with shoes and school clothes and diapers to buy--I don't feel that I can constantly be spending money on books for myself. It is especially hard to justify when you look at the shelves and boxes and piles of books that I already own. We hardly have room for all of these books!


So, I have taken to borrowing books from the library or from other people, but the pleasure of reading has been greatly reduced.

In fact, even though I love to read, I HATE borrowing books for myself (children's books are wonderful to borrow--we take at least 20 home from the library at a time!). During my 8+ years as an English major at university, I developed some habits that can only be continued with books that I actually own. For example, I love to turn down the page of the spot where I leave off (as opposed to using a bookmark, which can easily fall out). I love to take the book I am reading with me wherever I go--sometimes causing it to becomed battered from being crammed into a purse or diaper bag, fingerprinted with whatever I am eating, or smudged with dirt or sand, depending on the day.

Occasionally I also revert back to my student and teacher practice of actually writing in books, but this only happens if I happen to have a pen in my hand (which these days is pretty rare--I can't even find a pen most of the time). I also take longer to read a book than I used to, since I can only read when my kids are sleeping (have I ever mentioned how little they sleep?), so it is a terrible feeling to be 3/4 of the way through a novel and have to take it back to the library, because someone else is waiting for it. I like to take my time when I read.


While these may seem like small things, they really add to my enjoyment of reading. But when the book belongs to someone else, I worry about any little smudge or fold or dent that I cause, and have been known to actually buy the person a new book rather than return the even slightly damaged one I have read. This is especially discouraging, because then I could have taken it to the park or read it while eating chocolate ice cream (not that I eat chocolate ice cream--I don't know where that example came from!), or enjoyed folding down the pages--but I didn't own it until after it had already been read.

When I lend out a book, it is a much different situation. If a person returns it with dents and smudges, I am overjoyed, because I know it's actually been read (and I have someone else to talk to about the book!). I would much rather have a book that shows signs of being read than a pristine copy of a story that a person has only skimmed through or pretended to read.


So, what should I do? Invest in books despite the cost? Give up some of my long-standing reading habits? Look for second-hand copies of the books I want to read? Nothing seems quite right. I guess in the mean time I'll just continue to borrow books, despite all my reservations about it. I must really love to read :)